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"It's a good time to be downtown." Who was behind downtown Jackson's transformation?

Posted at 6:44 AM, Jun 25, 2024
  • Video shows what went into the transformation of Jackson's downtown.
  • Mindy Bratish-Orta, former board member of the Anchor Initiative, shows the details that went into turning downtown Jackson into a destination.
  • Placemaking started with new signs, benches, and plants, and later turned into housing efforts and bringing more restaurants and retailers to the area.

"When I first came to Jackson, from Los Angeles, this is not what we had. The joke was, you could bowl through downtown and not hit anything. It's not that way now, and it wasn't easy," shares Mindy Bratish-Orta. Neighbors who know Jackson, know that the neighborhood has made a major transformation in the last decade.
Much of that transformation can be attributed to that of the Anchor Initiative, whose mission was to create a more vibrant downtown. Find out more about the Anchor Initiative and why they deemed their mission "accomplished":

"Mission accomplished." The reasoning behind Jackson's Anchor Initiative decision to dissolve

A lot of that mission was workforce attraction and more housing, but turned into so much more. "The results are clearly evident in the prosperity we're seeing (in) downtown Jackson," says Bratish-Orta. A lot of that started with little details, like changing signage, adding benches and plants, and making the parking angled.


Downtown Jackson

Those changes have since boomed into multiple restaurants, festivals, shops, and a social district. Andrew Volk, co-owner of Ogma Brewing says, "It's really been a huge part of Ogma, because we have such a great downtown with all the murals. It's just an awesome situation to be able to walk around with a cold drink."

Downtown Jackson also sees events all summer long, like this week's Cruise-In & Concert, where FOX 47 will be take their show On The Road, live starting at 5:30pm and at 6:00pm.

Volk continues, "We can barely squeeze in our own events because there's so many fun things happening downtown. It's a good time to be downtown."

Bratish-Orta also shares that the work that has been poured into downtown is now trickling into adjacent areas, like the MLK and East Michigan Avenue corridors. She says, "Because the community came together and did the hard work, focusing on our core, the heart of our community. Now, all of our other organs and all of our other limbs can get stronger as we continue to work together." Proving that though the work has been done downtown, Jackson isn't done yet.

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